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Software Development

Bloc Review: Learn from an Online Coding Bootcamp

POSTED 05/13/2015
By Joseph Rauch

Coding bootcamps are a great way to quickly gain programming skills and find a job as an entry-level developer. They’re also expensive — the average cost is roughly $10,000 — and students are out of luck if they’re rooted in one city but want to attend a bootcamp in another. Maybe they can’t drop everything they’re doing and spend 70 hours a week coding.

Online coding bootcamps such as Bloc solved this problem by offering courses students can take remotely, cost-effectively and while maintaining a full-time work schedule.

Victor Yudi Tomo, who lives in Brazil, wanted programming skills so he could pursue a coding career and start his own business. He earned Bloc’s $500 New Relic Diversity Scholarship and put it towards their $5,000 iOS development course. After working as a programmer for a few months, Tomo launched his restaurant app HeyCheff.

Read our review to decide whether Bloc will work for you or your company as well as it did for Tomo.

Quick Stats

Cost $4,000-5,000
Required Experience None
Languages HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Angular, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, database languages
Class Length 12-36 weeks (it all depends on which commitment option you choose)
Hours/Week 12-40 hours a week (again, depends on commitment option)
Application Standard Application
Job Assistance Optional “Job Prep Curriculum”
Tuition Reimbursement No
Financial Aid Diversity scholarships are available for women, veterans and members of minority groups underrepresented in programming
Payment Plan All upfront or over six installments
Selective No
Description Online bootcamp
Contact Info hello@bloc.io

The Bloc Experience

Bloc offers five courses. In this context, “course” means an iteration of the bootcamp with a focus on a different set of programming languages or skills. Each course has the same pedagogy but offers completely different material.

Every Bloc course uses pair programming, meaning you’ll work virtually with a mentor to code and tackle programming problems. The pace, price and intensity depends on your preference, but all Bloc students learn by building usable Web or mobile applications. There is an optional job preparation curriculum for students after completing their foundational learning and project phases.

Bloc Mentors

Before you start, a program coordinator will assess your needs and what you hope to obtain from the course. The program coordinator pairs you with a mentor based on your feedback.

During the foundational phase (learning basic concepts and skills before applying them to projects), you’ll complete 20-30 exercises that include coding challenges you can review with your mentor. For the project phase, students begin with a practice project before producing five functional projects. The phase culminates with a student designed capstone project.

Bloc Review Pacing

Pace options include 10, 25 or 40 hour weeks.

 

Bloc mentors are patient, flexible and skilled (average nine years of industry experience). They offer actionable advice and provide varied resources for any problems students have. Some of these include fun Bloc guides and tutorials such as Jotly or Swiftris, but mentors are more concerned with providing a holistic experience rather than promoting Bloc. A closely-monitored question and answer forum allows students to engage support staff.

Courses

Bloc offers five courses:

  • Full-Stack Web Development – In this case, “full-stack” means covering front-end development and back-end skills such as Ruby on Rails, databases (mostly SQL) and APIs.
  • Front-end Web Development – This course covers the essential front-end languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript but also teaches advanced frameworks including AngularJS.
  • UX Design – User experience design means mastering both Web and visual design tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, UXPin and Sketch so you can design beautiful and functional websites.
  • Android Development – Becoming an Android developer is all about learning Java, a dynamic, object-oriented programming language. The course also tackles APIs and other mobile app development tools.
  • iOS Development – To make iPhone apps you’ll need to program using Objective-C, Swift, Xcode and Cocoa Touch. These skills will help you work with APIs, animations and game logic.

There are also two tracks that combine courses into an extensive learning experience or expand one of them. Each one costs $9,500 and offers easily twice as much training and career preparation as a single course. Like the courses, you can take them at different paces.

  • Web Developer Track – This track combines the material from the full stack and frontend web development courses while offering unique projects.
  • Designer Track – This track expounds upon the UX design course by including user interface design skills and frontend web development.
Bloc Track

Each track page outlines the skills you’ll spend the most time learning.

The Bloc Blog

The majority of posts on Bloc’s blog report on topics relevant to the Bloc experience: mentorship, education, Web development, mobile development, design, career development, etc. The posts offer advice to aspiring programming or design professionals, tell stories of learners succeeding with Bloc or similar platforms and announce Bloc-related news. It’s worth scrolling through the feed to see whether any posts will help you learn more.

The posts are helpful to learners but sloppy at times. In a recent post, a writer links to Wikipedia several times to provide attribution for programming terms rather than explaining them (or just not linking to Wikipedia). There are other slightly off-putting mistakes littered throughout the posts such as typos and unclear language, but they usually don’t get in the way of learning.

Engineering Blog

Bloc does not tell you exactly what this blog is and the format doesn’t make it clear. Each post seems to be a code-related anecdote from a Bloc community member. It is supposed to be a place for more experienced developers and Bloc alumni to talk shop and discuss advanced topics, according to a Bloc representative. This has potential to be a fun forum for alumni members, but there are only three posts so far and no comments.

Scholarships

Bloc offers four scholarships for veterans, women and minorities. Naturally, the most generous scholarships are more difficult to earn.

Things You Might Not Know About Bloc

  • Bloc is one of a handful of bootcamps that registers as an educational institution on LinkedIn. Employers will see students attended Bloc instead of stumbling upon a suspicious gap in your profile.
  • You can find Bloc on Medium
  • Bloc community members often use closed Facebook groups to collaborate on projects

Potential Shortcomings and Preference Issues

Bloc offers students one to three meetings with their mentors every week. For some students, this isn’t enough. Before you sign up, think about how much time you would like to spend with a mentor and how productive you are during self-study. If you want more than Bloc can provide, it may be an issue of preferring in-person bootcamps rather than online ones.

In other reviews, alumni have complained about difficulties finding a job and networking with other alumni. Bloc has an events page and an alumni page, but it doesn’t directly connect you with alumni. It’s more of a starting point.

Like most bootcamps, Bloc does not spend time teaching computer science fundamentals and theories nor does it dive into advanced programming. It provides students the hard coding skills to land an entry-level job.

Student Reviewed Scorecard

skilledup image
4/5

Cost Of Program

At $5,000 for most courses, Bloc is more expensive than other online bootcamps and mentorship programs such as Designlab and Thinkful. It is more affordable compared to in-person bootcamps.

5/5

Ease Of Use

The experience is intuitive and mentors smooth out any difficulties you might have using the platform.

5/5

Quality of Content

The coursework and mentor support, on average, was excellent. Bloc’s free tutorials are also fun and well-designed.

5/5

Quality of Support

Mentors and support staff were kind, professional, flexible and responsive.

4/5

Employment Value

Bloc can’t guarantee you a job, but it will give any self-motivated student the skills to get one. Students who complete the job preparation coursework gain access to Bloc’s Placement Network, which will increase the chance of securing a job.

4.6

Overall

Verdict

Bloc is a great option for students and employees who want to learn new skills or break into a career in programming and design. The $5,000 per course is far from cheap but still much less than most in-person bootcamps. And unlike in-person bootcamps, you can manage Bloc’s workload while working full-time.

You get what you pay for, in both money and time. At half the cost of an in-person bootcamp, Bloc provides the best results to self-motivated students with defined goals and expectations.

Jagged Edge Media JAcom Consultants